One very fine day it came to pass that the good God wished to enjoy himself in the heavenly garden, and took all the apostles and saints with him, so that no one stayed in heaven but Saint Peter. The Lord had commanded him to let no one in during his absence, so Peter stood by the door and kept watch. Before long some one knocked. Peter asked who was there, and what he wanted? “I am a poor, honest tailor who prays for admission,” replied a smooth voice. “Honest indeed,” said Peter, “like the thief on the gallows! Thou hast been light-fingered and hast snipped folks’ clothes away. Thou wilt not get into heaven. The Lord hath forbidden me to let any one in while he is out.” – “Come, do be merciful,” cried the tailor. “Little scraps which fall off the table of their own accord are not stolen, and are not worth speaking about. Look, I am lame, and have blisters on my feet with walking here, I cannot possibly turn back again. Only let me in, and I will do all the rough work. I will carry the children, and wash their clothes, and wash and clean the benches on which they have been playing, and patch all their torn clothes.” Saint Peter let himself be moved by pity, and opened the door of heaven just wide enough for the lame tailor to slip his lean body in. He was forced to sit down in a corner behind the door, and was to stay quietly and peaceably there, in order that the Lord, when he returned, might not observe him and be angry. The tailor obeyed, but once when Saint Peter went outside the door, he got up, and full of curiosity, went round about into every corner of heaven, and inspected the arrangement of every place. At length he came to a spot where many beautiful and delightful chairs were standing, and in the midst was a seat all of gold which was set with shining jewels, likewise it was much higher than the other chairs, and a footstool of gold was before it. It was, however, the seat on which the Lord sat when he was at home, and from which he could see everything which happened on earth. The tailor stood still, and looked at the seat for a long time, for it pleased him better than all else. At last he could master his curiosity no longer, and climbed up and seated himself in the chair. Then he saw everything which was happening on earth, and observed an ugly old woman who was standing washing by the side of a stream, secretly laying two veils on one side for herself. The sight of this made the tailor so angry that he laid hold of the golden footstool, and threw it down to earth through heaven, at the old thief. As, however, he could not bring the stool back again, he slipped quietly out of the chair, seated himself in his place behind the door, and behaved as if he had never stirred from the spot.
When the Lord and master came back again with his heavenly companions, he did not see the tailor behind the door, but when he seated himself on his chair the footstool was missing. He asked Saint Peter what had become of the stool, but he did not know. Then he asked if he had let anyone come in. “I know of no one who has been here,” answered Peter, “but a lame tailor, who is still sitting behind the door.” Then the Lord had the tailor brought before him, and asked him if he had taken away the stool, and where he had put it? “Oh, Lord,” answered the tailor joyously, “I threw it in my anger down to earth at an old woman whom I saw stealing two veils at the washing.” – “Oh, thou knave,” said the Lord, “were I to judge as thou judgest, how dost thou think thou couldst have escaped so long? I should long ago have had no chairs, benches, seats, nay, not even an oven-fork, but should have thrown everything down at the sinners. Henceforth thou canst stay no longer in heaven, but must go outside the door again. Then go where thou wilt. No one shall give punishment here, but I alone, the Lord.”

Peter was obliged to take the tailor out of heaven again, and as he had torn shoes, and feet covered with blisters, he took a stick in his hand, and went to “Wait-a-bit,” where the good soldiers sit and make merry.

There was once a man who had a daughter who was called Clever Else, and when she was grown up, her father said she must be married, and her mother said, “Yes, if we could only find some one that would consent to have.” At last one came from a distance, and his name was Hans, and when he proposed to her, he made it a condition that Clever Else should be very careful as well. “Oh,” said the father, “she does not want for brains.” – “No, indeed,” said the mother, “she can see the wind coming up the street and hear the flies cough.” – “Well,” said Hans, “if she does not turn out to be careful too, I will not have her.” Now when they were all seated at table, and had well eaten, the mother said, “Else, go into the cellar and draw some beer.” Then Clever Else took down the jug from the hook in the wall, and as she was on her way to the cellar she rattled the lid up and down so as to pass away the time. When she got there, she took a stool and stood it in front of the cask, so that she need not stoop and make her back ache with needless trouble. Then she put the jug under the tap and turned it, and while the beer was running, in order that her eyes should not be idle, she glanced hither and thither, and finally caught sight of a pickaxe that the workmen had left sticking in the ceiling just above her head. Then Clever Else began to cry, for she thought, “If I marry Hans, and we have a child, and it grows big, and we send it into the cellar to draw beer, that pickaxe might fall on his head and kill him.” So there she sat and cried with all her might, lamenting the anticipated misfortune. All the while they were waiting upstairs for something to drink, and they waited in vain. At last the mistress said to the maid, “Go down to the cellar and see why Else does not come.” So the maid went, and found her sitting in front of the cask crying with all her might. “What are you crying for?” said the maid. “Oh dear me,” answered she, “how can I help crying? if I marry Hans, and we have a child, and it grows big, and we send it here to draw beer, perhaps the pickaxe may fall on its head and kill it.” – “Our Else is clever indeed!” said the maid, and directly sat down to bewail the anticipated misfortune. After a while, when the people upstairs found that the maid did not return, and they were becoming more and more thirsty, the master said to the boy, “You go down into the cellar, and see what Else and the maid are doing.” The boy did so, and there he found both Clever Else and the maid sitting crying together. Then he asked what was the matter. “Oh dear me,” said Else, “how can we help crying? If I marry Hans, and we have a child, and it grows big, and we send it here to draw beer, the pickaxe might fall on its head and kill it.” – “Our Else is clever indeed!” said the boy, and sitting down beside her, he began howling with a good will. Upstairs they were all waiting for him to come back, but as he did not come, the master said to the mistress, “You go down to the cellar and see what Else is doing.” So the mistress went down and found all three in great lamentations, and when she asked the cause, then Else told her how the future possible child might be killed as soon as it was big enough to be sent to draw beer, by the pickaxe falling on it. Then the mother at once exclaimed, “Our Else is clever indeed!” and, sitting down, she wept with the rest. Upstairs the husband waited a little while, but as his wife did not return, and as his thirst constantly increased, he said, “I must go down to the cellar myself, and see what has become of Else.” And when he came into the cellar, and found them all sitting and weeping together, he was told that it was all owing to the child that Else might possibly have, and the possibility of its being killed by the pickaxe so happening to fall just at the time the child might be sitting underneath it drawing beer; and when he heard all this, he cried, “How clever is our Else!” and sitting down, he joined his tears to theirs. The intended bridegroom stayed upstairs by himself a long time, but as nobody came back to him, he thought he would go himself and see what they were all about And there he found all five lamenting and crying most pitifully, each one louder than the other. “What misfortune has happened?” cried he. “O my dear Hans,” said Else, “if we marry and have a child, and it grows big, and we send it down here to draw beer, perhaps that pickaxe which has been left sticking up there might fall down on the child’s head and kill it; and how can we help crying at that!” – “Now,” said Hans, “I cannot think that greater sense than that could be wanted in my household; so as you are so clever, Else, I will have you for my wife,” and taking her by the hand he led her upstairs, and they had the wedding at once.

A little while after they were married, Hans said to his wife, “I am going out to work, in order to get money; you go into the field and cut the corn, so that we may have bread.” – “Very well, I will do so, dear Hans,” said she. And after Hans was gone she cooked herself some nice stew, and took it with her into the field. And when she got there, she said to herself, “Now, what shall I do? shall I reap first, or eat first? All right, I will eat first.” Then she ate her fill of stew, and when she could eat no more, she said to herself, “Now, what shall I do? shall I reap first, or sleep first? All right, I will sleep first.” Then she lay down in the corn and went to sleep. And Hans got home, and waited there a long while, and Else did not come, so he said to himself, “My clever Else is so industrious that she never thinks of coming home and eating.” But when evening drew near and still she did not come, Hans set out to see how much corn she had cut; but she had cut no corn at all, but there she was lying in it asleep. Then Hans made haste home, and fetched a bird-net with little bells and threw it over her; and still she went on sleeping. And he ran home again and locked himself in, and sat him down on his bench to work. At last, when it was beginning to grow dark, Clever Else woke, and when she got up and shook herself, the bells jingled at each movement that she made. Then she grew frightened, and began to doubt whether she were really Clever Else or not, and said to herself, “Am I, or am I not?” And, not knowing what answer to make, she stood for a long while considering; at last she thought, “I will go home to Hans and ask him if I am I or not; he is sure to know.” So she ran up to the door of her house, but it was locked; then she knocked at the window, and cried, “Hans, is Else within?” – “Yes,” answered Hans, “she is in.” Then she was in a greater fright than ever, and crying, “Oh dear, then I am not I,” she went to inquire at another door, but the people hearing the jingling of the bells would not open to her, and she could get in nowhere. So she ran away beyond the village, and since then no one has seen her.

An aged count once lived in Switzerland, who had an only son, but he was stupid, and could learn nothing. Then said the father, “Hark thee, my son, I can get nothing into thy head, let me try as I will. Thou must go from hence, I will give thee into the care of a celebrated master, who shall see what he can do with thee.” The youth was sent into a strange town, and remained a whole year with the master. At the end of this time, he came home again, and his father asked, “Now, my son, what hast thou learnt?” – “Father, I have learnt what the dogs say when they bark.” – “Lord have mercy on us!” cried the father; “is that all thou hast learnt? I will send thee into another town, to another master.” The youth was taken thither, and stayed a year with this master likewise. When he came back the father again asked, “My son, what hast thou learnt?” He answered, “Father, I have learnt what the birds say.” Then the father fell into a rage and said, “Oh, thou lost man, thou hast spent the precious time and learnt nothing; art thou not ashamed to appear before mine eyes? I will send thee to a third master, but if thou learnest nothing this time also, I will no longer be thy father.” The youth remained a whole year with the third master also, and when he came home again, and his father inquired, “My son, what hast thou learnt?” he answered, “Dear father, I have this year learnt what the frogs croak.” Then the father fell into the most furious anger, sprang up, called his people thither, and said, “This man is no longer my son, I drive him forth, and command you to take him out into the forest, and kill him.” They took him forth, but when they should have killed him, they could not do it for pity, and let him go, and they cut the eyes and the tongue out of a deer that they might carry them to the old man as a token.

The youth wandered on, and after some time came to a fortress where he begged for a night’s lodging. “Yes,” said the lord of the castle, “if thou wilt pass the night down there in the old tower, go thither; but I warn thee, it is at the peril of thy life, for it is full of wild dogs, which bark and howl without stopping, and at certain hours a man has to be given to them, whom they at once devour.” The whole district was in sorrow and dismay because of them, and yet no one could do anything to stop this. The youth, however, was without fear, and said, “Just let me go down to the barking dogs, and give me something that I can throw to them; they will do nothing to harm me.” As he himself would have it so, they gave him some food for the wild animals, and led him down to the tower. When he went inside, the dogs did not bark at him, but wagged their tails quite amicably around him, ate what he set before them, and did not hurt one hair of his head. Next morning, to the astonishment of everyone, he came out again safe and unharmed, and said to the lord of the castle, “The dogs have revealed to me, in their own language, why they dwell there, and bring evil on the land. They are bewitched, and are obliged to watch over a great treasure which is below in the tower, and they can have no rest until it is taken away, and I have likewise learnt, from their discourse, how that is to be done.” Then all who heard this rejoiced, and the lord of the castle said he would adopt him as a son if he accomplished it successfully. He went down again, and as he knew what he had to do, he did it thoroughly, and brought a chest full of gold out with him. The howling of the wild dogs was henceforth heard no more; they had disappeared, and the country was freed from the trouble.

After some time he took it into his head that he would travel to Rome. On the way he passed by a marsh, in which a number of frogs were sitting croaking. He listened to them, and when he became aware of what they were saying, he grew very thoughtful and sad. At last he arrived in Rome, where the Pope had just died, and there was great difficulty as to whom they should appoint as his successor. They at length agreed that the person should be chosen as pope who should be distinguished by some divine and miraculous token. And just as that was decided on, the young count entered into the church, and suddenly two snow-white doves flew on his shoulders and remained sitting there. The ecclesiastics recognized therein the token from above, and asked him on the spot if he would be pope. He was undecided, and knew not if he were worthy of this, but the doves counselled him to do it, and at length he said yes. Then was he anointed and consecrated, and thus was fulfilled what he had heard from the frogs on his way, which had so affected him, that he was to be his Holiness the Pope. Then he had to sing a mass, and did not know one word of it, but the two doves sat continually on his shoulders, and said it all in his ear.

Once upon a time a mouse, a bird, and a sausage formed a partnership. They kept house together, and for a long time they lived in peace and prosperity, acquiring many possessions. The bird’s task was to fly into the forest every day to fetch wood. The mouse carried water, made the fire, and set the table. The sausage did the cooking.

Whoever is too well off always wants to try something different! Thus one day the bird chanced to meet another bird, who boasted to him of his own situation. This bird criticized him for working so hard while the other two enjoyed themselves at home. For after the mouse had made the fire and carried the water, she could sit in the parlor and rest until it was time for her to set the table. The sausage had only to stay by the pot watching the food cook. When mealtime approached, she would slither through the porridge or the vegetables, and thus everything was greased and salted and ready to eat. The bird would bring his load of wood home. They would eat their meal, and then sleep soundly until the next morning. It was a great life.

The next day, because of his friend’s advice, the bird refused to go to the forest, saying that he had been their servant long enough. He was no longer going to be a fool for them. Everyone should try a different task for a change. The mouse and the sausage argued against this, but the bird was the master, and he insisted that they give it a try. The sausage was to fetch wood, the mouse became the cook, and the bird was to carry water.

And what was the result? The sausage trudged off toward the forest; the bird made the fire; and the mouse put on the pot and waited for the sausage to return with wood for the next day. However, the sausage stayed out so long that the other two feared that something bad had happened. The bird flew off to see if he could find her. A short distance away he came upon a dog that had seized the sausage as free booty and was making off with her. The bird complained bitterly to the dog about this brazen abduction, but he claimed that he had discovered forged letters on the sausage, and that she would thus have to forfeit her life to him.

Filled with sorrow, the bird carried the wood home himself and told the mouse what he had seen and heard. They were very sad, but were determined to stay together and make the best of it. The bird set the table while the mouse prepared the food. She jumped into the pot, as the sausage had always done, in order to slither and weave in and about the vegetables and grease them, but before she reached the middle, her hair and skin were scalded off, and she perished.

When the bird wanted to eat, no cook was there. Beside himself, he threw the wood this way and that, called out, looked everywhere, but no cook was to be found. Because of his carelessness, the scattered wood caught fire, and the entire house was soon aflame. The bird rushed to fetch water, but the bucket fell into the well, carrying him with it, and he drowned.

An old woman lived in a village. She had gathered a serving of beans and wanted to cook them, so she prepared a fire in her fireplace. To make it burn faster she lit it with a handful of straw. While she was pouring the beans into the pot, one of them fell unnoticed to the floor, coming to rest next to a piece of straw. Soon afterward a glowing coal jumped out of the fireplace and landed next to them. The straw said, “Dear friends, where do you come from?” The coal answered, “I jumped from the fireplace, to my good fortune. If I had not forced my way out, I surely would have died. I would have burned to ash.” The bean said, “I too saved my skin. If the old woman had gotten me into the pot I would have been cooked to mush without mercy, just like my comrades.” – “Would my fate have been any better?” said the straw. “The old woman sent all my brothers up in fire and smoke. She grabbed sixty at once and killed them. Fortunately I slipped through her fingers.” – “What should we do now?” asked the coal. “Because we have so fortunately escaped death,” answered the bean, “I think that we should join together as comrades. To prevent some new misfortune from befalling us here, let us together make our way to another land.”

This proposal pleased the other two, and they set forth all together. They soon came to a small brook, and because there was neither a bridge nor a walkway there, they did not know how they would get across it. Then the straw had a good idea, and said, “I will lay myself across it, and you can walk across me like on a bridge.” So the straw stretched himself from one bank to the other. The coal, who was a hot-headed fellow, stepped brashly onto the newly constructed bridge, but when he got to the middle and heard the water rushing beneath him, he took fright, stopped, and did not dare to go any further. Then the straw caught fire, broke into two pieces, and fell into the brook. The coal slid after him, hissed as he fell into the water, and gave up the ghost. The bean who had cautiously stayed behind on the bank had to laugh at the event. He could not stop, and he laughed so fiercely that he burst. Now he too would have died, but fortunately a wandering tailor was there, resting near the brook. Having a compassionate heart, he got out a needle and thread and sewed the bean back together. The bean thanked him most kindly. However, because he had used black thread, since that time all beans have had a black seam.